Background: Conflicting data exists regarding the effect of continuity on diabetes care. Resident physicians frequently treat patients with diabetes in their continuity clinics; however, maintaining continuity in a resident clinic can be very challenging.
Objective: To determine if resident continuity is associated with improvement in diabetic outcomes (HgA1c, LDL, blood pressure) in a resident clinic.
Design and setting: Retrospective analysis of data obtained from a medical record review of diabetic patients seen in a resident physician clinic.
Measurements: We measured continuity, using the Usual Provider of Continuity Index (UPC) for residents and faculty preceptors. We measured changes in HgA1c, LDL, and blood pressure over a 3-year period. Using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA), we assessed the relationship between UPC and change in these diabetic outcomes.
Results: The resident UPC was 0.43, and the faculty preceptor UPC was 0.76. The overall change in HgA1c was -0.3. There was a statistically significant relationship between improvement in HgA1c and resident UPC (p = 0.02), but not faculty preceptor UPC. There was no association between resident or faculty preceptor continuity and change in LDL or blood pressure.
Conclusion: This study showed a link between resident continuity and improvement in glycemic control in diabetic patients. Resident physicians have a greater opportunity to develop a personal relationship with their patients. This interpersonal continuity may be of benefit in patients with illnesses that requires a significant amount of self-management behaviors. Medical training programs should focus efforts on improving continuity in resident primary care clinics.